HOUSTON -

Some estimate there are as many as 1.2 million homeless animals on the streets of Houston. Whether enough is being done to battle the problem is being brought into question.

Several times a week, Erika Emal leaves food in fields and parking lots to feed stray animals.

She and a handful of other volunteers target neighborhoods in Sunnyside area, where they believe dogs are being dumped like garbage.

 “When we moved from the east end to this area, we noticed there was a huge need for animal rescue because there are so many stray dogs in this area and nothing being done about it,” said Emal who volunteers for the South Side Street Dogs.

Two of the dogs Emal recently rescued off the streets both appear healthy and friendly.

She hopes to find permanent homes or foster families for all of her animals. 

“All the shelters and rescue groups are bursting at the seams,” Emal said. “Otherwise these dogs are going to get run over or they're going to get euthanized in shelters. We need foster homes desperately.”

According to the City of Houston’s own numbers, there are an estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million stray and abandoned animals on the streets each day.

In July, BARC started a new program called “Healthy Pets, Healthy Streets.”  It targets neighborhoods on the near north side where stray animals or dog bites are a huge problem.

BARC also offers free spaying and neutering, along with vaccinations, but the city believes it will take a change in public mindset and attitudes to combat the problem.

Emal agrees and says there is a need for more public awareness along with more spaying and neutering.

In the meantime, she and her group will try to make a difference one day and one animal at a time.

Click here for more information about the South Side Street Dog.